Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Joffrey Ballet played three of its trump cards in one hand Thursday night by staging an all-Ashton program at Wolf Trap. Sir Frederick Ashton, now 71, is the master choregrapher of British Ballet - among contemporaries, only Balanchine has equalled or surpassed him in range, depth and imagination.
Of the facets of his work, three were well represented by the Joffrey tribute. "The Dream" in his enchantingly droll version of Shakespeare's midsummer fantasy, with a Mendelsohn score. "Monotones," composed in two parts to the music of Erik Satie, is a tour de force of neoclassical distillation. And the satirical "Facade," using the score William Walton wrote to accompany Edith Sitwell's poems, is an effortlessly brilliant parody of ballroom, folk and classical dance mannerisms.
Each of the productions has been carefully mounted to reflect Ashton's intentions accurately, and each is generally successful in this aim. But dance is an evanescent art; changing casts and occasions make for large differences. It cannot be said that full justice was done to any of Thursday night's offerings, though each performance had its considerable share of merits.
In "The Dream," Russell Sultzbach's spry Puck was a delight, and Kevin McKenzie had both the kingly stance and nobility of line one wants for Oberon, if not always the technical authority. Denise Jackson, however, though she danced well, made rather a pallid Titania, and I found Jeffrey Hughes' interpretation of Bottom lacking in charm. "Facade," funny enough by itself, was most effective where it was least campy. The best, if not quite inspired, performance fell to "Monotones," the most profound of the three ballets.